Local Politics

Easley: States should own offshore oil rights

Posted September 17, 2008 3:11 p.m. EDT

— Gov. Mike Easley on Wednesday asked North Carolina’s congressional delegation to make sure the state, not private oil companies, owns the rights to any new offshore oil supplies.

The U.S. House passed legislation Tuesday that would open up drilling off the coast of North Carolina and other states and give the leases to oil companies. The Senate will consider similar proposals this week.

Easley urged Congress to provide the states with leasing rights to protect their citizens and their economic security. Profits would be the sole focus of the oil companies, he said, and once the new leases are fully developed, the U.S. would lose its last reserves and become totally dependent on foreign oil.

“If we are getting low on oil, why in the world would we give away our oil reserves? Why would we give our oil to private companies so they can sell it back to us?” Easley said in a statement. “We should keep American oil for American security.”

The governor said that the pending legislation claims to require the leases to be used for U.S. consumption, but all that means is that American consumers would use up the domestic production first and then return to purchasing foreign oil.

“I frankly do not understand Congress’ logic,” he said. “This would turn a manageable problem into a crisis. We need to look at our North Carolina offshore oil reserves like a savings account. It’s the last place you go to get oil, as it’s a rainy day fund.”